Ann left us peacefully after a brief but very brave battle with cancer. She was surrounded by her loving family at Bobby's Hospice in Saint John: her husband Donal (Don) Connolly, who were together for 43 wonderful years; her daughter Amy and fiance Ciaran Lazenby of Toronto; sons Patrick (Liz Barry) and Christopher (Amanda Wijesekera), Toronto; and her first grandchild, Cormac, born to Amy on April 20, 2020.
Ann was born in Moncton, NB, the daughter of Clarence and Isobel (Weir) Wilkins. She is survived by her brother, Tom Wilkins (Judy), Young’s Cove, and sister Beth Boudreau (Terry), Pointe-du-Chene; as well as her in-laws Agnes Richardson (Quispamsis), Pam Connolly (Rothesay), Rolande Connolly (Halifax), Mary & Les Hansen (Caledonia, ON), Gerry & Sue Connolly (Quispamsis), and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, and her brothers-in-law, Jim Connolly and John Connolly.
Ann had a spark that could light up the room when she entered. She was a strong woman, with a positive attitude, and that made her a role model to many. She contributed to make things better, and that was true in all areas of her life, whether personal, professional, civic or spiritual. To her family, she was our rock, always there for each of us when we needed her, and always thinking of others before herself.
Ann was full of life. She served on the boards of two professional associations: the NB Physiotherapy Association, as President for 2 terms, and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA). The CPA honoured her with a life membership in 2014, to recognize her tireless contributions to the profession. Meanwhile, she managed the physiotherapy department at the SJ Regional Hospital, served as Chair of the Parish Council at her church, sang in the church choir, and volunteered for the cancer society. Ann wasn't happy unless she was busy, and she knew how to multitask. But none of this kept her away from bringing up three amazing kids.
Ann was a performer. She never felt more connected than while singing a capella with her beloved Sea Belles chorus members. They were like sisters. They enjoyed countless performances and trips together for regional and international competitions: in St. John’s NL, Rhode Island, and Orlando. Until recently, she remained active on the Seabelles board and regional committees.
Ann’s “heart was full!” as she sometimes said. She learned the art of hosting from her mother’s family, who still celebrate Isobel’s birthday bash every August, at their beloved getaway in Pointe-du-Chene. Since 1981, Ann and Don created their own ritual, gathering together with their close friends for Dinner Club every other month. Every summer the group met at cottages and campgrounds for special get-togethers in Shediac, Washademoak Lake and Bar Harbor ME. They hosted the group’s final dinner together in November 2019.
Ann was an avid runner. She finished half-marathons in Saint John, Fredericton, Ottawa, Toronto and other cities, raising money for charities along the way. In April 2019, only months before her diagnosis, she had just begun her training for Marathon-by-the-Sea. Around that time, she was even filling sandbags to support friends in Rothesay during the spring floods.
Ann was a globe-trotter. Before and after retirement, she and Don travelled throughout the US, the Caribbean, Greece, Spain and Portugal. They fell in love with Costa Rica, where they made multiple trips, as recently as 2019. Ann shared her joy with family and friends by documenting the sights, sounds and tastes of each trip on her blog. She had a way with words.
Ann received wonderful care in her final year. We thank all her medical and support staff for their compassionate work, especially her family physician Dr. Sasha Sealy. We also extend our gratitude to her surgeons, Drs. John Mowatt and Hari Ondiveeran; the oncology unit, including Drs. Daigle-Maloney and Gray; the KV Extramural (Sam, Daphne, Lisa, Melissa and Caroline); the SJRH palliative care unit (Carolyn, Theresa and Lisa); and Bobby's Hospice (Amy, Tim, Kim, Kera, Victoria and Lauren), who were so kind and attentive during Ann's final days.
Kennebecasis Community Funeral Home is attending to Ann’s final arrangements.